Apple are true innovators of UI design. Sometimes the most intuitive UI designs are ones that take inspiration from real-life processes. With the preview of Apple's iOS7 designs, many have praised and criticized the UI design of the latest operating system. Many have criticized Apple for copying the look and feel of Android and Windows 8 operating systems. Smartphones are no longer something alien to users. There is also consistency in how we use devices, design and develop for them. Is it therefore inevitable that UI design will be similar throughout our devices, regardless of operating systems?
If we take Android as an example, it has taken years for conventions to be maintained throughout apps, and even for the hardware to appear similar. The consistency is important not just for the Android brand, but also for the user. If you use one app in a certain way, you will expect another in the same operating system to use the same conventions. With Google Glass, there are fewer guidelines as to how designer and developers should create for this medium. The guidelines focus more on the fact that a Glass App should not overload the user with information. It can be expected that when Google Glass becomes more widely used, more conventions will be added to the mix.
With Apple's announcement this week, many designers have viewed this as evidence that Apple is playing catch-up by adding UI design features that are prevalent in Windows and Android operating systems. iOS7 is moving into the direction of flat design, without having consistent conventions for users to know which elements are clickable. iOS7 also focuses more on the main apps that users will use more frequently. It is early days still to make a judgment on iOS7, especially because only a selection of people have access to early Beta. The best way to judge the merit of an OS, after all is by using it and testing the functionality.
When we consider Google Glass and the Apple watch that many are still speculating about, it is important also to wonder whether the iPhone and iPad will take on a specific role. The Google Glass will be used for checking information relevant to the user's location. Google Glass will be for accessing information relevant to now. With this in mind, it will be interesting to reflect on how important the iOS7 update will really be to design. I suspect at the moment, many are basing their hopes on this operating system, because they want a sign that Apple is still ahead of its competitors in terms of design. It may well be, however that hardware will determine the software and with new updates in hardware design, we will find the iOS7 update irrelevant in six months' time.
We will have to wait until autumn to see how the public responds to Apple's updates. Have Apple's designers simply copied parts of the Windows and Android operating systems, or is this simply a move towards a trend that focuses on simplicity and user intuition. At the moment it looks as though Google is ahead of the game in terms of modern UI designs in its operating system and in Google Glass. All eyes will be on Apple, however when they bring out their watch.
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